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The music of my life

It is always around us, sometimes in the background of our lives yet our brains acknowledge it to a point that it has pushed it to an insignificant detail. What I am talking about is music.

It is everywhere. Of course there is radio and television, but it is also in the background of our lives. It stays with us and helps to conjure up memories, bad or good. It can be like a bookmarker in our minds that sections off events and files them by songs.

My childhood holds many songs. From Sesame Street to the Electric Company there are cute little songs that are burned into that era of my life. I can remember playing at home but if I heard the Sesame Street song I had to sit down and watch it. It brought the ABC song to my ears that I later perfected in Kindergarten. I can still hear Ernie singing his rubber ducky song to his favorite bath time pal. These songs hold together my early childhood and the innocence that it held.

As I grew up though I was to other types of music. I can visualize myself standing on the front seat of my mama’s white Impala with the black and white herringbone seats. Back then seat belts weren’t view as being important. I can hear the Carpenters melody of “Top of the World” and the smooth tunes of “Afternoon Delight” sung by the Starland Vocal Band.

After I started going to Parks Elementary School, there were songs that gave me good memories of life as a student. In the first grade, I can hear my class singing, “This Land is Your Land” that Ms. Nolan (now Mrs. Dickey) taught us while we were studying America. I can still see in my mind’s eye what the pages in our book looked like while we learned the words to the song. It must have been in the Fall because the memory leads me to also think about Thanksgiving.

The song “JukeBox Hero” was introduced to me by hearing it over and over and over from Timmy Holifield’s jambox that he had brought on the AmTrak Train that Project P.A.S.S was taking to New Orleans. I think we ran the other passengers off to the other cars because we kept blasting that song. Nevermind it was 6 o’clock in the morning and all these 5th graders were singing together. Those were the days!

Other songs from elementary that were popular and very important to me were anything from the “Grease” soundtrack, which was the foundation of a Pink Ladies Club that the girls started in the second grade. We had “The Valley Girl Song” by Moon Unit Zappa that was the theme of another fad we all loved in the sixth grade. The sixth grade brought a love of rock and popular music to the forefront of my life, so there was a lot of great music rolling around my ears that year. Joan Jett, Olivia Newton-John, Hall and Oats, The Cars, Men at Work and John Cougar were among some of my favorite singers.

My senior year, I can still remember getting dressed to go to a dance at Leslie Alexander’s house while listening to Chicago songs. My first kiss was to a Bon Jovi song in the Cleveland High Student Center at a football dance on a Friday night. My heart was taken by my first real boyfriend and any song from Heart’s 1985 album reminds me of some great nights we had through our years together.

Hanging out with my friends brought different memories as well. Lisa Chudy conjures up the songs, “Two of Hearts” by Stacy Q, anything by Paula Abdul and the Romantics. Sally Lawes brings in songs by Steve Miller Band, B-52’s, Edie Brickell and the New Bohemians and all music classic rock. Nancy Cranford leads me to songs like “Wild Thing” by Tone Loc and “Busta Move” by Young MC. All music from big hairbands remind me of Preston Givens because back in the day, that is what he jammed. Of course the boyfriend listened to Sammy Hagar, Heart, and Greg Allman while working on his white 280ZX.

Life sped up and led me to MC Hammer, En Vogue, Damn Yankees, Mr. Big, Red Hot Chili Peppers and The Black Crowes while at Delta State. But the song while at DSU that now means the most to me is “I Will Be Here” by Steven Curtis Chapman that was used as a Tri Delta Pref Night song but I used it in my wedding as well. It is a song that brings me love and peace, one from friends who knew me so well to my best friend forever and ever. Another wedding song, “Trumpet Voluntary” written by Henry Purcell also reminds me of my baby boy, Crawford. That, among other classical songs, were played to get him to sleep at night. I would watch him sleep and breathe to these beautiful songs.

Just look at all the styles, artists and songs that have shaped my life and memories. How could anyone say that music isn’t important. It shapes and molds our psyches, teaches us to respond to all kinds of different situations and it helps bookmark our memories for us. Keep music in your life and in the lives of all children.

Caroline Laster is an employee of The Bolivar Commercial. She may be contacted at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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Letter to the Editor — Our House

Dear Editor,

Our House, Inc. is an agency that assists clients who have been affected by interpersonal violence (domestic violence, sexual assault, dating violence and stalking). We offer effective prevention programs in an effort to combat violence before it happens in the communities we serve.

The organization was founded in 1995. Our mission is to eliminate interpersonal violence through intervention, prevention, prosecution, victim protection, and sustainable restoration.

Currently Our House has established over 11 programs to address the issue of violence in the family through youth and adult groups and programs. The organization also offers 24hour shelter and hotline services for victims of domestic violence.

Our House, Inc. serves ten counties: Bolivar, Carroll, Grenada, Holmes, Humphreys, Leflore, Montgomery, Sunflower, Sharkey and Washington.

As a non-profit, we are actively seeking passionate, goal oriented and dependable volunteers to assist with the organization’s programs. We believe that volunteers are the backbone of our organization. As Our House, Inc. grows, it is more important than ever to have volunteers to assist with the day-to-day operations, promoting the organization’s mission and providing needed services to our clients and staff.

Volunteering is one of the most respected and simple methods of assisting any organization, as well as rewarding and enjoyable for those who choose to give of themselves. As a volunteer for our agency, individuals will receive valuable training and networking with other agencies and programs in the community.

We are proudly funded by United Way of Washington County and the United Way of Cleveland-Bolivar County. It is our hope that the community continues to support United Way. Their funding is vital to Our House, Inc. success in serving clients and meeting their needs.

Sincerely

Patricia Edwards

Family Violence Grant-Coordinator

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Letter to the Editor — Amy Barefield

Dear Editor

“No, I’m not coaching. It’s a huge responsibility to coach somebody.” –Oksana Baiul

I am writing to express my disappointment in the behavior of the Cleveland Central High School Slow Pitch Softball coach witnessed on Saturday, October 7, 2017. As an educator, I was embarrassed by her lack of maturity and judgment; as a parent, I was saddened for my daughter and for her own players witnessing her lack of faith in her team; as an adult, I was shocked by her juvenile outbursts and actions. Her job as a high school coach should be about more than winning by any means. She should be held to standards of integrity and fairness as a role model. More than once in the games, she was reprimanded and warned by the umpires for her outbursts and at one point was confined to the dugout for the remainder of play.

I understand that Starkville was at fault for not having the newest stamp on our bats, and as such we were subject to disqualification from the tournament. But, once her choice was made to let us play with one bat of Cleveland’s, the fact that she then took the bat back after we had won a game was the equivalent of “taking my toys and going home” because she was then facing competition and the possibility of elimination. Letting us play with the bat while we were losing but taking it back when we were winning showed a lack of respect to her own team as well as poor sportsmanship and immaturity to both teams.

Walking from the field, I heard one of her own players trying to explain what had happened to her little sister by saying, “I don’t really know what happened.” It was definitely not pride in her play or her team I heard in that young lady’s voice. And, it was not pride in their team I heard in the apologies from Cleveland fans as we walked out of the park.

The coach’s behavior exhibited a lack of understanding or any respect for what being a high school coach means. I would fault the umpires for allowing it to unfold in this manner, or the other coaches for not stopping her, or even the parents and fans for feeding the emotions that led to the action, except none of those persons can be expected to have to do their jobs as well as babysit a coach. At some point, an adult must be responsible for her own actions. I think when the coach took on the responsibility of leading a team of young ladies, she passed that point.

Deeply Disappointed,

Amy Barefield

Starkville High School softball parent

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Letter to the Editor — Noel Funchess

Dear Editor,

A recent columnist quoted philosopher Voltaire's offer to "defend to the death" a person's rights of free speech, ("Nothing's more sacred than freedom", Sept. 29). However, in doing  so the writer ignored the first half of the famous quote which is, "I disapprove of what you say....."). More's the pity.

Yes, even the President has the right of disapproval. Using his bully pulpit to do so has a long and well publicized history. This in no way equates with government passing new prohibitive laws as the columnist implied.

Business owners have every right to fire employees who take a position, (or in this case a knee), which could lead to public disapproval and therefore loss of income. This is all the President has advocated. Perhaps it is the columnist who needs a teaching moment.

Noel Funchess

Cleveland, Mississippi

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Where did my time go?

The other morning before going in to work, I was looking at Facebook and saw some little girls who were dressing up for their homecoming week. This particular day had the theme of “The Olden Days.” So I wanted to see what they were dressing like.

I was expecting to see poodle skirts, leather or even hippie flowers. But when the photo loaded completely, there it was and my eyes got as large as a fifty-cent pieces. They were dressed in 1980s clothes.

My heart began to race, my body started to sweat and my mind just couldn’t wrap around the idea that the 1980s was “The Olden Days.” When did that happen?

It was just a minute ago that my friends and I were wearing neon colors with lots of blue eyeliner and hair as big as we knew how to get it. It was just last week that the new British invasion had hit the music scene. Duran Duran, Wham! and Culture Club pounded in my mama’s car on the jam box I had bought from Alco. Mama didn’t have a radio and it just wasn’t cool to ride around without some tunes.

The little girls on Facebook had thin headbands on across their foreheads just like the blue and silver one I wore from time to time. Sometimes instead of wearing that I would wear my hair in a banana clip and to really mix things up I might even put all the hair on one side of my head. We thought we were so cool!

My ’80’s journey started with the Valley Girl fad complete with leg warmers, Valley Girl speak and a complete guide to all things Valley Girl. We even changed our names to Valley Girl names. I became Tori.

As the decade moved on so did the fads. The Valley Girl thing left as quickly as it came and then we all became Preppies. We wore lots of pink with green and navy with green. We bought Izod and later Ralph Lauren Polo shirts. Boy, do I remember digging around at the old Stein Mart in Greenville to find really cheap shirts. That’s the only way I got one.

We accessorized with a handled pursed that had covers you could change out with your outfit. There were also belts that could be changed out with different colors and twist-a-beads that also were customized to the colors you were wearing. Our feet were covered in white Keds, Reeboks, jelly shoes or cute little flats. Friendship bracelets were the rage as well as braided ribbon barrettes that flowed down all our big sprayed hair.

But again, let me say, in my mind’s eye this was just yesterday — not “The Olden Days.” My heart is broken and my spirit is wounded. Where did the time go? It left in a flash and tells me I better look around cause, I might miss something today.

It was just yesterday when we walked to Pasquales every afternoon to get a tiny pizza for a snack and did the same thing later when it became Abby’s Pizza. While we were visiting Western Plaza we had to see what new cassettes we might need to purchase that day at Sound Center. (It was also a great place to see cute guys!)

Once we all started to get motorized vehicles, the thing to do was to ride from McDonald’s to Western Plaza and back again. We stopped and chatted with one another and sometimes got something to eat. All that changed slightly, when Cleveland acquired a Burger King. Then the riding became from there to Western Plaza and back.

Most of the time, it was good clean visiting but every once in a while there was a bad apple that has to spoil the pot. There may have been a fight or a wreck but most of the time it was pretty innocent fun.

Those “Olden Days” were so much fun but I promise you it seems like I just left there. I guess I will have to face the fact that I am getting ... rewind ... I am old. I just don’t feel it though.

Big hair is now flat straight hair and makeup has become more neutral. Clothes have gone to more comfort over fashion. Michael Jackson, George Michael, Prince, Whitney Houston, Tom Petty and many others have moved on to the Heavenly stage in the sky. If phone booths can become cell phones, TV went from regular network stations to every kind of cable station in the world and movies at home go from VHS to streaming, then I guess I have lived long enough to see major change in life.  

I will attempt to face that I am “old” (even though I don’t) but I think right at this moment I am going to take a cue from some wise person from my mother’s generation and “think about it tomorrow!”

Caroline Laster is an employee of The Bolivar Commercial. She may be contacted at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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